Use Of Irony In Dimmesdale's Speech

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Irony in Dimmesdale’s Speech In Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter, a woman named Hester Prynne committed adultery, resulting in a child in her Puritan community in the mid seventeenth century. Hester persistently denied the townspeople the name of the man who shares her guilt. This man, named Arthur Dimmesdale, given the hypocritical task to convince Hester to speak his very name often speaks ironically, with many double meanings. As a Priest, Arthur Dimmesdale has a status that places him above the ordinary townsperson. Coming from, “one of the great English universities,” (Hawthorne 61) he has an excellent education to use in his preaching, placing him on a social pedestal, above everybody else, including Hester. As he speaks to …show more content…

The townspeople believe that Dimmesdale is doing God’s work with his determination to reveal the identity of this sinner so he can, “stand beside [Hester], on [her] pedestal of shame,” (62), but the only person who truly understands the meaning of Dimmesdale’s words is Hester, as she is the only person who knows he is the fellow adulterer. He reveals the information that he, “hath not the courage,” (62) to reveal himself, so he asks Hester to do it for him, so he can, “step down from [his] high place,” (62) to have his own public shaming; to relieve his guilt. Following Dimmesdale’s speech, Hester alludes to the fact that he is the father of her child with her words. She claims that her child will, “ never know an earthly [father],” , but only, “seek a heavenly father,” (63). Hester’s words are meant to be taken literally because of the community’s strong beliefs regarding religion, and that is how the townspeople interperate them, but they are also meant to refer to Dimmesdale. Dimmesdale, being a priest, is a man of God, therefore, in a way, being the “heavenly father,” and “earthly one,” (63) that Hester speaks about. As a priest with a high position who engaged in sin with one of the women of the congregation, Arthur Dimmesdale speaks ironically when he attempts to convince her to reveal the name of the man she committed this sin

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